Trieu: MSU cashes in on ties with Florida DE Winter

Allen Trieu
Special to The Detroit News
Donovan Winter

In October 2014, Orlando Bishop Moore Catholic and Oviedo Hagerty played a close, hard-fought game, with Bishop Moore winning 23-20.

During that game, Bishop Moore head coach Matt Hedrick had his eyes caught by No. 35 on Hagerty. Little did he know that in just under two years, he would have a chance to coach that player, Donovan Winter, who transferred to Bishop Moore this offseason.

“We played against him early in his sophomore year,” Hedrick says, “and we had Parker Boudreaux, who was heavily recruited and is at Notre Dame, and I do remember, Donovan was much smaller then, but I remember thinking, this kid is going to be tough for Parker to block because he was very quick and aggressive.”

Winter’s transfer also coincided with a spike in his recruitment, seeing the 6-foot-5, 235-pound defensive end go from a handful of mid-major offers to several in the Big Ten. Michigan State offered after seeing the same traits Hedrick had seen in him as a sophomore. At the Spartans’ elite camp, Winter run around, through, and spun past would-be blockers on his way to a scholarship offer, one he accepted shortly after.

“Coach Dantonio offered me a scholarship and I asked him right after that, would he accept my commitment? And he said he would. It was a dream come true,” Winter said.

Trieu: UM stock rising with QB Thompson-Robinson, WR Hall

His father, Blaise Winter, played 11 seasons in the NFL. Following his playing days, he ran camps and clinics on hand combat in football, working with several NFL teams as well as college programs. One of those schools was Michigan State, which allowed young Donovan to develop his affinity for the Spartans.

Childhood feelings do not always lead to commitments as high school recruits, but in this case, it did.

“He’s always liked Michigan State,” Hedrick says. “His dad had access to Michigan State and he went up there as a kid, so they were his favorite team growing up.”

Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee were among the other schools that offered Winter scholarships.

What those schools, and the Spartans saw is, not only the talent and potential, but the intangibles necessary to capitalize on those natural gifts.

“He’s a really good kid, an extremely hard worker and he’s very focused,” Hedrick said, “more so than most high school kids. He is very passionate about the game. As a player, he has size, and he’s only 17, so he has a chance to be successful and be a phenomenal player, but most of all, he has the work ethic to maximize that.”

With his commitment made, Winter can now spend his summer putting that work ethic toward getting bigger, stronger, faster, improving technique, and doing everything he needs to do to help Bishop Moore contend for a state title this fall.

One thing he will not have to work at is redecorating his room.

“Ever since I was little, I’ve been watching them on TV, looking at magazines, everything about Spartans,” he said. “My room now is still filled with Michigan State stuff and I have a dog tag necklace from dad with a symbol of a Spartan. It’s been a dream since I was really, really young.”

Spartans in top five for 2018 WR

Michigan State recently offered Gurnee (Ill.) Warren wide receiver Micah Jones, a 6-foot-5, 195-pound rising junior who visited and camped with the Spartans earlier in June.

Jones now has the Spartans in his top five along with Northwestern, Notre Dame, Iowa and Illinois.

"The visit (to Michigan State) was great,” he said. “I went down the day before the camp and walked the campus with my dad. Then I went to the camp and got the offer there, and after we ate and talked to the coaches. Overall they are great people and the school is a great and beautiful place."

Pennsylvania linebacker adds MSU offer

MSU is the latest offer for Erie (Pa.) Cathedral Prep linebacker Matthew Bauer, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound prospect who now has offers from the Spartans, Penn State, Syracuse, Virginia, West Virginia and more.

The Spartans have had great success at Cathedral Prep in recent years, signing both Damion Terry and Delton Williams from the school.

More information

Donovan Winter profile

Micah Jones profile

Matthew Bauer profile

Allen Trieu began covering the state of Michigan for in 2005 and began managing the entire Midwest in 2009. He has been featured on the Big Ten Network on its annual Signing Day Show. His Michigan and Michigan State recruiting columns appear weekly at